Autumn Pesto Blitz (Oregano-Hazelnut Pesto)

If there is one fall tradition I uphold above all, it is making and freezing pesto. Pumpkin spice lattes we can take or leave, but we simply cannot be without multiple batches of homemade pesto as we head into winter.

I keep an eye on the frost warnings, but generally I harvest my herbs during the last week of September. All the basil is set aside for pesto – and a good bunch of the parsley and oregano, too. We like variety in our pesto; it makes up for the fact that we are decidedly unvaried in our use of the sauce. Yep, you guessed it: pasta. I am the mother of three children, after all.

Pizza closely follows pasta as a vehicle for enjoying homemade pesto. There’s hardly a winter pizza we make that doesn’t take a spoonful of the sauce, like this Brussels Sprout, Walnut & Pesto Pizza. Ohh, la la.

Here’s how my autumn pesto blitz goes down, plus a recipe for a new favourite: Oregano Hazelnut Pesto.

Three fall pesto recipes || Simple Bites #recipe

On pesto-making day, the counters are overflowing with ingredients. The herbs are well washed and spun dry in a salad spinner. The block of parmesan cheese is shredded in the food processor, cutting down on prep time. A whole braid of new garlic is on hand, because we like our pesto to be pungent.

Occasionally I will use pine nuts, but for big batches of pesto, I swap in organic pepitas – shelled pumpkin seeds. They are kind of a super seed, downright delicious, and a lot less expensive than pine nuts.

Also, since my boys frequently take a thermos of penne with pesto to school, it has to be made with seeds instead of nuts. If you haven’t tried swapping pepitas for pine nuts in your favourite pesto yet, you’re in for a nice, nut-free surprise.

Oregano Hazelnut Pesto || Simple Bites #recipe

Shaina got me hooked on pesto with parsley, brightened up with a squeeze of lemon juice. It yields a vivid green pesto that is scrumptious with roast meats or spread on tomato sandwiches.

Below is a sampling of the pesto I recently froze for winter weeknight dinners. The parsley is at the top, the oregano at the bottom, and the basil is on the left of the image. They are all delicious. I dab a little olive oil on the top, then freeze them right in the jars.

Three Fall Pesto Recipes (Oregano Hazelnut Pesto) || Simple Bites

Try this oregano hazelnut pesto over my Lemon & Oregano Roast Chicken, or these Polenta Crusted Roast Potatoes. Or, you know, pasta all week long. Just don’t send it to school.

Oregano-Hazelnut Pesto
4.5 from 2 reviews
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Recipe type: Sauce
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: 1 cup
Adapted from Saveur: The New Classics Cookbook, this spin on pesto utilizes a garden perennial that grows in abundance: oregano. Delicious on roast chicken or squash, and definitely a good match for light pasta dishes.
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups packed fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Instructions
  1. In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, add herbs, cheese, hazelnuts and garlic.
  2. Process for 15-20 seconds or until finely chopped. Stop the processor and scrape down the sides.
  3. Pour in the olive oil and sprinkle the salt in as well. Cover and process again until smooth.
  4. Transfer to a 250mL jar and store in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze for up to 6 months.

How do you like to use pesto for family meals?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. I love pesto so much! I make it all through the summer and use it in pastas and on pizza but I never seem to make it in the fall. This recipe looks and sounds amazing! I love using walnuts but hazelnuts are such a unique addition that I’ve never thought of.

  2. I just recently learned of “Pine Nut Syndrome” where one can have a metal like taste in the mouth after eating pine nuts. I believe this originates from a variety of pine nuts that come from China.
    Making Pesto with pepitas and other nuts is a great idea! Try it on shrimp.
    Thanks for the great new ways to make pesto and be able to enjoy it all winter long!

  3. Nutty pesto goes so good with everything. Bread, pizza, veggie dip, salad dressing, soup. Why is there not more dang pesto in my life? I need to remedy this.

  4. I love pesto on veggies – green beans, zucchini, whatever! And it’s incredible on fish. It’s helped my fish-phobic kids eat more fish. Will definitely try the oregano twist.

  5. Thank-you for the inspiration. How are you feeling?

    • Thanks for asking, Lora. Physically I am well; fully recovered, I think. But I still have some emotional stuff I’m working through from the accident. I hear that is normal…

  6. This is worth trying! It sounds good!

  7. Aimee, is it true that basil (and the resulting pesto) will taste off if I’ve let the basil go to seed? Thanks!

  8. What about using sunflower seeds in place of pine nuts?? I love pesto made with pine nuts, but the cost is outrageous. A friend gave me pounds of sunflower seeds that I froze & am unsure if I should use them in pesto.

  9. I love the idea of hazelnuts! I have tried cashews and pistachios. (Pistachios are our favorite so far.) We have cow-dairy sensitive peeps at our house, so we use sheep’s cheese (Costco) or homemade goat cheese. Like Shaina, we add the lemon juice, and for CREAMY pesto, we use 6 oz of sheep’s yogurt. I can’t make it often enough…. My family is addicted!

  10. My husband always requested pesto when we first married, but he liked the little package mixes and I was just not a fan. It wasn’t until I started making at home from fresh ingredients that I was won over to pestos deliciousness. Summer pestos are wonderful, of course, but we also really enjoy making pestos in the winter with winter greens. I have never tried using pepitas, but I definitely will soon.

  11. This post makes me feel so guilty about the fact that I’ve never made my own pesto. This recipe sounds so lovely and fresh, I’ll definitely have to try it out! 🙂

  12. Oh, this pesto sounds heavenly!
    I would love to use it to add a twist to my 3 coloured potatoes salad! 🙂

  13. Pesto is so good! I had a sage pesto on a turkey sandwich in a cafe one time and it was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. I need to recreate the sage pesto sometime. I will also have to try the pumpkin seeds- I’ve thought about it, but haven’t had them around to use yet. I use sunflower seeds or walnuts. Next spring I’d like to try making pesto with nettles (probably mixed with something else). We are pretty sensitive to dairy, so I always make it without cheese, and it still turns out great. I love parsley, and will definitely try that combo out.

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